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US Secretary of State Antony Blinken met with Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas on Sunday, discussing how to manage the growing civilian toll of Israel’s assault on Gaza, and what could come after the conflict is over, Reuters reported.
The visit by Blinken to the West Bank is the first highest-level visit by a US official to the territory since Hamas launched its surprise attack on Oct. 7 from the Gaza Strip, killing around 1,400 people and taking 240 others hostage.
During the meeting, the US secretary spoke about the increased role the Palestinian Authority should have in Gaza when the conflict is over. He added that an “effective and revitalized Palestinian Authority” would make the most sense to ultimately run the Palestinian enclave.
Abbas told Blinken there should be an urgent ceasefire and that aid should flow into the strip again. US officials told the Washington Post that Abbas indicated a willingness to help govern Gaza if Hamas is deposed.
However, observers questioned whether the Palestinian Authority, which already exercises limited self-rule in the Israeli-occupied West Bank, would hold any sway in Hamas-controlled Gaza. The government body has seen its popularity dip amid allegations of fraud, incompetence and widely unpopular security cooperation agreements with Israel.
The West Bank visit came as Blinken met with other Middle Eastern officials across the region, calling for “a humanitarian pause” in the conflict. Even so, he rebuffed calls for a ceasefire, saying that Hamas must be defeated before any ceasefire is implemented to prevent its fighters from regrouping.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has also rejected calls for a ceasefire, citing hostages held by Hamas, the Wall Street Journal noted.